Rs 182-crore PM Kishan Sanman Nidhi scam
GUWAHATI: The Agriculture Department is now meticulously verifying the documents of around nine lakh ineligible farmers who have availed of the benefits to the tune of around Rs 182 crore under the PM Kishan Sanman Nidhi Scheme.
The Agriculture Department has asked the banks through which the ineligible farmers got the benefits to trace the ineligible beneficiaries. "Since every account holder gives KYC (Know Your Customer) details while opening a bank account, they (banks) can reach the ineligible beneficiaries who went away with the benefits of the schemes," a source in the Agriculture Department said.
Principal Secretary (Agriculture) Ashish Kumar Bhutani said, "Identifying each of the ineligible beneficiaries is a meticulous job. We have asked the bankers to help us. The data operators entered the names and addresses of the ineligible beneficiaries wrongly with intention. We hope to find out the ineligible beneficiaries within three months and recover the amount from them."
The scam occurred during the mid-term of the Sarbananda Sonowal government. According to the department's statistics, the total number of farmers in the state at that time was around 23.33 lakh. The forgery came to light after payment of the first instalment of Rs 2,000 each. The government instituted an inquiry with the then Additional Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua. The investigation found that around 11.72 lakh ineligible farmers had received Rs 238 crore under the scheme. The government identified 2.58 lakh ineligible farmers and recovered Rs 51.60 crore. The whereabouts of around 9.14 lakh ineligible beneficiaries remained untraced.
A case is underway in the Gauhati High Court in this regard following a PIL filed by an NGO. The High Court has also sought the status of the scam from the government.